Professional Student of Life
Adventures in personal growth
October: Chop wood/carry water
A season left to itself will always move, however slowly, under its own patience, power and volition. ~ David Whyte
I love that old Zen phrase "chop wood, carry water." It brings me down to earth every time I get too wrapped up in the realms of mind or spirit - because even too much spirit isn’t a good thing! We are still physical beings inhabiting a physical body in a physical world. Whether we like it or not, we still have to take out the trash, brush our teeth, pay bills.
After my divorce in late 2015 (following a twenty-year marriage), I went on a spiritual deep dive that ended up lasting two full years. During that period I burrowed deep within myself, spending a huge amount of time reading, writing, meditating and attending classes on personal growth. Looking back now, I jokingly refer to the sterile suburban apartment where I lived as my Himalayan cave! In many ways I was truly living the life of a monk on a spiritual quest.
But eventually the seasons of life change. Recently I moved to a tiny but very cool apartment in the city. The game of life is swirling all around me here, and I'm itching to get off the bench and join in again. It’s as if the past two years of going inward have finally taught me the rules that were never clear when I was playing before. Suddenly my trajectory has changed and I’m focusing outward, eager to take what I’ve learned and test it out on the gritty playing field we call the “real world.” (Never mind that one of the rules is that it’s all actually just an illusion!)
Not that I’m abandoning my inner work – the goal is to take it with me into everyday life. I still meditate, read, journal, say my affirmations. I turned a whole wall of my new bedroom into a giant vision board that I can see from my bed. But I also went out and got a “real” job outside the house (just a regular old job hosting in a restaurant, which I’ve never done before). Joined a gym. Bought some clothes that were not yoga pants and sneakers. Thought about dating (okay – not very seriously). Got some blonde highlights that I immediately regretted.
Let me emphasize that I didn’t leave my cave because I thought I should (and I didn’t go into it in the first place that way either). It wasn’t a decision I made with my mind – it just happened. After my divorce I needed the time apart to process and understand where I had lost sight of myself. It was a restless, ungrounded feeling that told me that phase was ending. To be honest, it’s scary to leave the cave – but then, it was scary to enter it in the first place. We can never know how long a phase will last or where it will lead, however much the mind craves the answers ahead of time.
And, in reality, these phases are simply opposite sides of the same coin. It’s neither better nor worse to be spiritually or physically focused – we can get to the same place by taking either route. For me, for now, it’s about toting that barge and lifting that bale. But my prayer shawl is still hanging on the back of my door, waiting for me!
10/5/2017 01:48:59 am
I too was divorced late 2015, and I too have spent the last two years in my cave. Reading, writing, contemplating, growing. I think I am starting to feel the restlessness that you speak off. Recent trips out of the 'cave' have often sent me scurrying back for a bit more self reflection, but I know that I'm almost ready to leave permanently. Of course I don't know how the new, re-calibrated me will respond to what awaits me but it's nice to know my cave is there to be revisited if I need it. Wishing you much love, happiness and peace outside the cave :0)
10/9/2017 06:25:27 am
Love this Amaya and great to hear you're entering this new outward phase! Congrats on the job too...sounds like fun!
Catherine A. Connell
10/9/2017 06:48:03 am
Thank you beautiful soul for sharing your heart! You are precious💗
10/9/2017 11:39:55 am
I had a friend who lived in a spiritual fellowship center. He finally left after 3 years. He felt if he continued to stay in the safe cocoon of like minded people, he wouldn't get the chance to live what he'd been taught. Reminds me of you, stretching your wings in a very vibrant place and writing a new chapter.
10/9/2017 03:22:20 pm
It has taken me 7 yrs after the death of my husband to know it is time to leave my healing, nurturing cave. Soon I will be selling my house and moving by myself to a rural area of our country which has long been calling me. I finally listened to the call. Scary, yes. Do I know what will happen? No. I'm 76 yrs old and ready for the adventure. What fun !! Your post so resonated with me. Good job in following your heart.
10/9/2017 03:42:00 pm
Good luck, Rebecca! And please let me know if I can help in any way.
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